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Alleged Massena drug dealer released from jail after prosecutors fail to present case to grand jury in timely manner

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CANTON - A Massena man found in possession of about 60 grams of heroin when he was stopped by St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force members May 21 in the town of Fowler was released from the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility on Friday.

Task Force members had charged Elvis E. Pigott, 40, who had been living at 106 Liberty Avenue in Massena for the past few months, with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession with intent to sell and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, all class B felonies.

Deputies allege they found approximately 60 grams of heroin in Pigott’s vehicle during a traffic stop at the intersection of Routes 812 and 58 in the town of Fowler. They said the drugs carried a street value of approximately $20,000. He was also charged with selling a quantity of heroin to another person May 8 in the village of Massena.

Pigott had been held at the county jail since his arrest.

St. Lawrence County Public Defender Stephen D. Button said his office had filed a motion seeking to have Pigott released from custody since the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office had failed to present the case to a grand jury within the statutory 45-day period since the Massena man was incarcerated. He had been in custody for 52 days at the time of Friday’s court appearance.

“The People, pursuant to their usual policy, have not responded in writing,” St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards said.

Mr. Button said Pigott’s two prior felony convictions were in 1993 in Pennsylvania and 2000 in New York state, so Pigott is not a potential second felony offender or persistent felony offender.

“The People don’t have any basis to oppose this motion,” St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Joshua HaberkornHalm said, but he warned the defense attorney if Pigott was released from custody it was likely prosecutors would seek a stiffer sentence in any future plea bargain negotiations on the case.

“So the defendant will be punished for exercising his rights?” Judge Richards asked.

Mr. HaberkornHalm countered that wasn’t exactly his position. “I just don’t know the impact this will have on any negotiations,” he said.

Judge Richards, under statutory requirements, released Pigott on his own recognizance.

Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier indicated he was concerned to learn Pigott was back on the streets.

“We had a heroin drug buy into this individual and when arrested he had 60 grams of heroin in his possession. Those drugs were very likely headed here to the streets of Massena. This is a pretty significant case in our efforts to deal with the heroin problem here in Massena and the region and it needs proper attention,” Mr. Currier said.

In other recent court action before Judge Richards:

• Bruce A Bray, 57, of East Ellis Street, East Syracuse, was released from custody on his own recognizance after the St. Lawrence County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion charging the District Attorney’s Office had failed to present a felony charge to a grand jury within 45 days after their client had waived his right to preliminary hearing in local court.

Bray was charged by state police with driving while ability impaired by alcohol, the felony count of first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and use of a vehicle without an ignition interlock device May 25.

Troopers said Bray was stopped for speeding on Route 37 in Morristown. Under state law, DWAI is charged when the BAC is more than 0.05 percent but less than 0.07 percent or there is other evidence of impairment.

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